By Manzar Zaidi
Most of the fighting between Pakistani troops and the Pashtun Taliban has been in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. But the less-reported aspect of recent developments in Pakistan is the endemic radicalisation of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
The continuing mobilisation of Punjabi militants – the so-called “Punjabi Taliban” – is just one way that this growing extremism is becoming evident.
Punjab is vital: almost half of Pakistan’s 182 million people live in the province. About 44 per cent of Pakistan’s 20,000 madrassas are there. Of the 1,764 people on government “wanted” lists, 729 are from southern Punjab alone.
Continue reading The ‘other Punjab’ is at the heart of Pakistani extremism
Hiding In Plain Sight
Combating terrorists in Pakistan’s borderlands was hard enough. Just wait until they take over the country’s most populous province.
BY AHMAD MAJIDYAR
Pakistan’s Punjab province is not usually cited among the areas in danger of imminent takeover by terrorists, but that will likely soon change. On July 1, suicide bombers had no problem launching a triple attack on a famous Sufi shrine in Lahore, its bustling capital city. At least 35 were killed and over 175 injured in the assault. In fact, it was only the latest in a string of terrorist attacks that have rocked Pakistan’s densely populated heartland over the past year. Last month, Taliban gunmen torched 50 U.S. and NATO supply trucks headed for Afghanistan just outside Islamabad in northern Punjab. And the problems are likely to get worse in Punjab before they get better.
While U.S. and Pakistani military strategists focus on the terrorist threat in Pakistan’s tribal areas, the Taliban and al Qaeda are expanding into Punjab and teaming up with local terrorist organizations such as Jaish-e-Mohammed, the alleged recruiter of Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.
Read more >>- ForeignPolicy
Highlighting action against Lashker-e-Toiba and detained Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Maulana Masood Azhar as evidence of Pakistan’s commitment in fighting teror, president Asif Ali Zardari maintained that Mumbai attacks were targeted at his government and blamed non-state actors for the security situation within Pakistan. Portraying Pakistan as a victim of terror, Zardari in an Op-ed piece in The New York Times puts the blame on non state actors for targetig the peace process between India and Pakistan. “The Mubai attacks were directed not only at India but also at Pakistan’s new democratic government and the peace process with India that we have initiated. Supporters of authoritarianism in Pakistan and non-state actors with a vested interest in perpetuating conflict do not want change in Pakistan to take root, said Mr. Zardari…